Name That Grandmother!

Aug 14, 2012 | 2 comments

At dinner the other night, we had been talking about family and forebears and Linda reminded us of an interesting survey done some years ago:  College students were asked to give the maiden names of their grandmothers and only 10% of those surveyed could do so.

On the way home, I got to thinking about that.  Not only do I know my grandmothers’ maiden names, I know my great-grandmothers’ maiden names and have pictures of three of them.  I know the great-great names on both sides, as well, but have only a few of their pictures and only on my mother’s side of the family.  Even so, I feel I am lucky.

Both sides of my family were record-keepers and were proud of their heritage.  I grew up hearing stories of how my father’s people had come to America before the Revolution and, because they remained loyal to the crown, they fled to St. Johns, New Brunswick where they stayed for a generation or two.

That was the family of my five-times-great-grandfather whose name was Palmer.  I don’t know his wife’s name, but his son (my four times great grandfather Palmer) married Mary Branch from Kennebec, Maine.  They had thirteen children and my three-times-great-grandmother was the twelfth child… and so it goes.

Stories and pictures are even more plentiful concerning my mother’s side of the family.  My uncle Willard, of course, spent much of his adult life tracing the threads of Espys and Jeffersons, Richardsons and Taylors.  He got a jump-start as a child from published works on both the Espys and Taylors and managed to document some lines back to the sixteenth century.  As I said, I’m lucky…

Now that women are more inclined to hang on to their maiden names, I imagine that descendants of future generations will be more facile with those dinner-time conversations about their grandmothers’ maiden names.  And certainly there will be photographs…



  1. Linda J

    Okay, faithful readers…without peeking, what are the maiden names of your grandmothers? Obviously, I know mine or I might not have brought up the topic at dinner the other night. Grands: Montgall and Douglas. Greats: Lyons, Andersdaughter (sp?), ?, ?. And that’s as far as I can go without peeking at the extensive records that my daughter Britta has researched. (Yes, Britta was named after my great-grandmother Britta Steina Andersdaughter.)

  2. Kathleen Shaw

    I’ll take you up on that challenge, Linda, but I can only go so far. Grands: Smith and O’Connell. Grands: Bull, Fleming, and Malarkey. Of course, my memory is so bad anymore I’m surprised I could do that much off of the top of my head…


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